Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Precious Gifts

Principal ponderings...

This is going to be a slightly different post for me.  Normally, I don't use these posts to tell you about my weekend.  But today, I want to tell you about my weekend.  Last year, I began to connect with principals across the country through Voxer.  As I have shared in previous posts, this has been an amazing way for me to have ongoing professional development for myself and connect with leaders from all over.  I have been able to bring some new learning and ideas to everyone at FloRo.  And I keep learning everyday!  Through Voxer, I have been involved in the creation (there's my 2017 word again!) of a group of 'principal moms'.  We write a blog, run a Voxer group, support each other, have done a podcast and are looking to do more...  There are 7 of us from around the country who are part of this core group.  Most of us have never met in person, only spoken through our Voxer app.  A while back, we decided that we needed to plan a face-to-face meeting.  That meeting finally happened over the long weekend.

We traveled from Kansas, Ohio, Illinois and Massachusetts to all meet up in Nashville, Tennessee.  Weather and mechanical issues made it so that we almost did not get to meet up.  My Friday night flight was cancelled and then I ended up being flown to Charlotte and had to stay in a not-so-nice airport hotel and fly out of Charlotte to Nashville in the morning.  We each had our own travel challenge story to share, but eventually we all made it.  Leading up to this weekend adventure, we had discussed that we would all bring a small gift for each other that was representative of our state.  I might have left my shopping until Friday night at the airport...but everyone seemed to like their 'Boston Strong' mugs.  In return, I received gifts such as a Wicked Witch themed chocolate bar from Kansas, a magnet from Ohio, and corn and tootsie rolls from Illinois.  Did you know that tootsie rolls are made in Chicago, Illinois?!

When I returned home Monday night with my bag of gifts, I realized that there were actually many other gifts that I received throughout this weekend adventure.  But these were not gifts that I was going to be able to pull out of my suitcase.  Thinking back over this weekend, what I realized was that I received so many precious gifts besides chocolates and magnets.

I received the precious gift of collaboration.  We spent time sharing ideas and stories about being the principal in an elementary school.  

I received the precious gift of support.  We all had some difficult aspects of our personal lives to share, and we provided support in our presence, our conversations and our laughter.

I received the precious gift of understanding.  Trying to be a strong school leader.  Trying to be a strong mother.  Trying to do it not easy.  This weekend experience, these ladies, they get it and they are living it everyday with me.

I received the precious gift of laughter.  Sometimes you need to just take time to stop and let your guard down.  When your stomach hurts from laughing and you have tears coming down your face, gosh, it's just the best.

I received the precious gift of connection.  Whether you are an educator or an educational leader, so many times the job can seem isolating.  We had formed a connection before meeting in person, but being able to spend a whole weekend together with people who share your passion, your beliefs...that is priceless.

Getting and receiving physical gifts is always fun.  But the intangible gifts that I received from my trip to Nashville are much more valuable and will definitely outlast my chocolate bar!  I am grateful that I have formed this professional learning network of strong women.  While it was difficult to physically fly and drive through ice and snow to this meetup, it was way more difficult to go our separate ways on Monday.  Thankfully, I was returning to MA with all of the precious gifts I mentioned above and probably a few more I forgot.

How have you connected with other educators, in our school or from across the country?  Reach out.  Find your tribe.  You won't regret it.

Thank you Lindsy, Kelley and Claire for all of the precious gifts you have given me!

Currently reading:
Since I spent most of my Monday off in an airport or airplane, I was able to finish reading The War that Saved My Life.  I am not usually a fan of historical fiction, but this was definitely a good book.  It tells the story of Ada and her brother and how they try to not only survive World War II living in England, but how Ada wins her own personal war of growing up with a mother who did not want her or her "crippled" body.  Ada has a clubfoot that was never repaired when she was a baby.  The two children are taken in by a lonely woman who doesn't want to care about them, but they all end up becoming a family.  She saves them and they save her.
While I was in the airport, I of course bought a new book...I know, so unlike me!  It's called Books For Living.  And since I had two flights and a long layover, I was also able to start this new book.  This book seems like it was definitely written for me to read it!  The author discusses the question, why is it that we read?  Each chapter is about a specific book, how he found the book at the right time in his life or how it found him and what he learned about himself by reading the book.  

Events this week:
Monday - MLK Day, No School
Wednesday - Liz at DESE PAC meeting in Malden, 4th grade chorus @ 2:25, Staff Meeting, 3:30-5:00 - PBIS discussion and math
Thursday - Andrew Green, poet, visiting 4th grade classrooms all day
Friday - Liz and Dianna at SLT in the am, elementary curriculum meeting 12:00-3:00

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Our 4th graders, Maddie and Ryan, did an amazing job representing FloRo at Tuesday's School Committee meeting.  Did you know that the interim superintendent is Ryan's grandpa?! 

  • Mrs. Fournier's 3rd graders were diving into opinion writing when I popped in the other day. 
  • No heat?  No problem.  Karen Gartland was doing some fun math work with Mrs. Guernsey's class in the warm library. 
  • Mrs. Cahill was chatting with 1st graders, discussing a book that talked about when "your mouth is a volcano." 
  • Workout Wednesday means 2nd grade started their day with a dance party in the hall.  When I heard the music in my office...I quickly danced my way down the hall to join in the fun.  You should see Mr. Rider's moves! 
  • So glad I was able to see Mrs. Robinson using her newly installed board and projector (newly replaced board!) to talk about America, Today and Yesterday with her students. 

Check it out:
Guess what?!  I was selected to participate in the 'World Book Talk Championship.'  I had to create a 30 second (that time limit is really tough for someone who loves to talk about books!) book talk.  There are 16 videos and they are narrowing them down to 4 finalists and then 1 winner.  The winner will receive $500 from Scholastic to buy books!  Voting for this round ends January 20...Friday!  Go to this link to see the video and then to vote.
Get our students to vote too!  I am also hoping this motivates them to want to make their own book talks!

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